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Cave Exploring 102
by Stormy on September 28, 2007

Cave maps don't take shape overnight. Survey work can require several trips to complete. Pain and agony may be required.

Last April I was invited on a survey trip to Cave of the Winds. We started on a survey that pushed the limits of the group and was stopped at an almost too narrow to pass passage. Today the survey team met again to continue the work and once again I was asked to come along. The theory was, I think, that a marmot can squeeze into small spaces where people can not go. I did not know that plan at the time. The summer hours at Cave of the Winds had ended and we had an opportunity to sneak back in after hours to do our work. Cave tourists are a strange group. Some of them see a muddy caver and think that's the coolest thing in the world. They forget about their tour and want to see what the muddy cavers are doing. That's disruptive. The other side of the coin are the tourists who see a muddy cave monster come out and are so terrified that the tour is over for them there and then. Either way it's better off for everyone involved to do this sort of work after-hours. With a lot of effort we managed to push the narrow crawl and come out in a nasty, but more comfortable, passage. It was not long, but had a lot of ups and downs and having gone from a vertical passage to a horizontal passage, it quickly reverted again, forcing another bitterly painful squeeze to come out into a small room where everyone could finally stretch out. The path into the small room was painful at best. It required contorting and twisting and in the end was a helmet-off squeeze that made everyone groan. We spent three hours mapping less than fifty feet of passage. Taking measurements under these conditions was torture, but it's fifty feet of completed survey, meaning the cave is officially fifty feet longer and it's fifty feet less work that still needs to be done. This area has enough passage for one more trip to complete. Everyone in the group is looking forward to getting this section done.

Stormy, with survey light, survey tape and the Suunto Tandem compass and clinometer helps a caver take a measurement. Where is that caver...?
(taken by Max on September 28, 2007)
Yep, there really is another caver on the other side of the painful squeeze.
(taken by Max on September 28, 2007)
Don't kid yourself. Cave research can be painfully uncomfortable. Here a caver attempts a tight helmet-off squeeze.
(taken by Max on September 28, 2007)
Wildlife on the mountain! The following morning a relatively clean deer checks out a group of relatively dirty cavers. If you look carefully, you'll see a second deer behind the first one.
(taken by Max on September 28, 2007)

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